14 Showstopping Facts About Liza Minnelli

Liza Minnelli performs on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1992.
Liza Minnelli performs on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1992.
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

When a young Liza Minnelli performed with her mother, Judy Garland, at the London Palladium in 1964, it was immediately clear that the musical theater industry had another explosive star on its hands. Before long, she was winning Tony Awards, topping music charts, and working with some of Hollywood’s greatest talents—including Bob Fosse, who helped launch Minnelli's career into super-stardom with his film adaptation of Cabaret in 1972. Read more about the legendary triple threat below.

1. Liza Minnelli was named after a song by George and Ira Gerswhin.

On March 12, 1946, Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli welcomed their first and only child together, Liza May Minnelli. They named her after “Liza (All the Clouds’ll Roll Away),” a song that George and Ira Gershwin created with Gus Kahn for the 1929 Ziegfeld production, Show Girl. Garland dedicated a radio performance of the song to an 8-month-old Minnelli as a lullaby, and later covered it on The Judy Garland Show. It was also briefly played during the overture for their mother-daughter performance at the London Palladium in November 1964.

2. Liza Minnelli made her screen debut at 3 years old.

Though Minnelli had already been on screen before she was born (Garland was pregnant with her while filming 1946’s Till the Clouds Roll By), she made her official film debut at age 3, playing the daughter of Garland’s character, Veronica, in 1949’s In the Good Old Summertime.

3. Liza Minnelli is the only child of two Academy Award winners to ever win an Oscar herself.

liza minnelli, vincente minnelli, and judy garland
Liza Minnelli with her parents, Vincente Minnelli and Judy Garland, in Hollywood in the late 1940s.
KM Archive/Getty Images

Minnelli had inherited her mother’s dynamite singing chops and an unparalleled flair for theatrics, and she had nabbed a Best Actress Tony for starring in 1965’s Flora and the Red Menace by the time she was 19 years old. Eight years later, she took home a Best Actress Oscar for 1972’s Cabaret, making her the first and only winner whose parents have also both won Oscars. Her mother had been given the now-defunct Academy Juvenile Award in 1939 for her performances in The Wizard of Oz and Babes in Arms, and her father had won Best Director for 1958’s Gigi.

4. Liza Minnelli is an EGOT—sort of.

After Minnelli and director/choreographer Bob Fosse finished filming Cabaret, they immediately teamed up again for a made-for-television concert film called Liza With a Z, which won both of them an Emmy for Outstanding Single Program (Fosse also took home the awards for choreography and direction) in 1973. Fosse died one Grammy short of joining the EGOT club, but Minnelli kind of became a member in 1990 when the Recording Academy honored her with a Grammy Legend Award. Since it’s a non-competitive award, however, some people don’t count it.

5. Liza Minnelli auditioned for the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret on Broadway and didn’t get it.

When Minnelli lost out on the stage role of Sally Bowles to British triple threat Jill Haworth, she wasn’t upset. “I knew I’d get the movie for some reason,” she told HuffPost. “I remember saying to myself, ‘That’s all right, I’ll do the film.'” With Minnelli’s choppy dark hair, spidery lashes, and pronounced American accent, she created a version of the histrionic cabaret star that was distinctly set apart from Haworth’s.

6. Liza Minnelli’s godmother is Kay Thompson, author of the Eloise series.

Before penning the perennially popular Eloise series of children’s books, Kay Thompson was, ironically, a tremendously successful cabaret performer. She was also a vocal coach to Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball, a show-stealing actor alongside Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn in 1957’s Funny Face, and godmother to the daughter of her close friend, Judy Garland. Minnelli paid tribute to the woman she called her “sophisticated fairy godmother” by recreating parts of Thompson’s legendary nightclub act in her 2008 Broadway concert Liza’s at the Palace.

7. Liza Minnelli voiced Dorothy in the animated sequel to The Wizard of Oz.

Minnelli continued her mother’s legacy by giving voice to Dorothy in Journey Back to Oz, in which Dorothy and Toto must save Oz from a new evil witch, Mombi, played by Ethel Merman. Most of the cast—including a then-15-year-old Minnelli—had recorded their lines in 1962, but issues with an inexperienced animation company halted production, and the film wasn’t released until 1974. By then, of course, Minnelli was already a seasoned superstar.

8. Liza Minnelli was married to Jack Haley, Jr., whose father played the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.

jack haley jr. and liza minnelli in 1975
Liza Minnelli with then-husband Jack Haley, Jr. in 1975.
Maureen Donaldson/Liaison

The year 1974 turned out to be an Oz-some one for Minnelli. In addition to her Dorothy debut, she also married producer Jack Haley, Jr., whose father starred as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. In 1977, Minnelli briefly appeared on screen with her father-in-law in Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York, in which Haley introduces Minnelli’s character at an awards ceremony. It was Haley’s last film role; he passed away in 1979, the same year that Minnelli and Haley, Jr. divorced.

9. Liza Minnelli successfully avoided singing “Over the Rainbow” for most of her career.

Though Minnelli didn’t exactly stay off the Yellow Brick Road, she did steer clear of a certain seminal song of her mother’s: “Over the Rainbow.” “It’s been sung,” she told the Miami Herald. “I don’t like when anybody sings it.” She has, however, indulged our nostalgic tendencies at least twice, performing the song on The Hedda Hopper Show at age 13 in 1960, and again for the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration television special in 2001.

10. Liza Minnelli’s recording of “New York, New York,” used to be played at Yankee Stadium after every loss.

Frank Sinatra’s characteristically crooning rendition of “New York, New York” might be the most famous version of the song these days, but Minnelli’s actually came first. John Kander and Fred Ebb created the song for her character to sing in 1977’s New York, New York. Yankee Stadium adopted both versions in 1980, blasting Sinatra’s tune after wins and Minnelli’s version after losses. The tradition continued for more than two decades, until a miffed Minnelli gave management an ultimatum in 2001: Play her number after a win, or don’t play it at all. They took the second option, and now Sinatra’s voice booms through the stadium after every game.

11. Liza Minnelli sang on My Chemical Romance’s 2006 album The Black Parade.

You can hear Minnelli’s recognizable warble toward the end of “Mama,” a Goth circus anthem on My Chemical Romance’s 2006 album The Black Parade. It was lead singer Gerard Way’s idea to feature her on the track. “I love Liza Minnelli,” Way told The New York Times. “Black Parade was very theatrical, and we had this song 'Mama,' and I said, 'You know, it would be really great in this one part to get Liza.'” The producer asked her, she agreed, and soon Way was meeting her through the mixing board—the band was recording in Los Angeles, while Minnelli sang her piece from New York. In a later interview with PennLive, Minnelli called the experience “wonderful” and said Way was “as smart as a whip.”

12. Doctors said Liza Minnelli would never walk or talk again after contracting viral encephalitis.

liza minnelli 2002
Minnelli celebrates her return to performing in 2002.
Scott Gries/Getty Images

When Minnelli was hospitalized for severe brain inflammation in 2000, she was told she’d never walk or talk—let alone grace a stage—again. Undeterred, she immediately began practicing the alphabet, and rehearsed herself back to health with a steady schedule of singing and dancing. By 2002, the 56-year-old living legend was off to Europe to tour a new show, aptly named Liza’s Back!

13. Liza Minnelli used to babysit Ron Howard, who later cast her in Arrested Development.

liza minnelli as "lucille two" in arrested development season 4
Liza Minnelli as "Lucille Two" opposite Jason Bateman's Michael Bluth in season 4 of Arrested Development.
Netflix

Decades after Minnelli babysat Ron Howard, he phoned her to ask if she’d be willing to guest star in a wacky little sitcom he produced. The show, of course, was Arrested Development. And the role was even wackier: Lucille Austero (more commonly known as “Lucille Two”), the vertigo-plagued nemesis of Lucille Bluth. Minnelli accepted the role and played it to perfection intermittently throughout several seasons, to great acclaim. “I just love doing it,” she told Today.

14. Eight different actors have impersonated Liza Minnelli on Saturday Night Live.

Much to the disappointment of the musical theater/sketch comedy crossover contingent of fans, Minnelli has never once hosted Saturday Night Live (though she did make a memorable cameo as the best friend of Kristen Wiig’s character Penelope in 2009). Between 1987 and 2017, a total of eight women debuted their best Liza Minnelli impressions on the 30 Rock stage, including Nora Dunn, Rosie O’Donnell, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Lena Dunham, Cecily Strong, and, of course, Kristen Wiig. As Wiig demonstrates in 2012’s “Liza Minnelli Tries to Turn Off a Lamp,” it only takes one Liza Minnelli to turn off a lamp ... but it takes a while.

The 10 Best Memorial Day 2020 Sales

iRobot,GoWise,Funko via Wayfair, Entertainment Earth
iRobot,GoWise,Funko via Wayfair, Entertainment Earth

The Memorial Day sales have started early this year, and it's easy to find yourself drowning in offers for cheap mattresses, appliances, shoes, and grills. To help you cut through the noise and focus on the best deals around, we threw together some of our favorite Memorial Day sales going on right now. Take a look below.

1. Leesa

A Leesa Hybrid mattress.
A Leesa Hybrid mattress.
Leesa

Through May 31, you can save up to $400 on every mattress model Leesa has to offer, from the value-minded Studio by Leesa design to the premium Leesa Legend, which touts a combination of memory foam and micro-coil springs to keep you comfortable in any position you sleep in.

Find it: Leesa

2. Sur La Table

This one is labeled as simply a “summer sale,” but the deals are good only through Memorial Day, so you should get to it quickly. This sale takes up to 20 percent off outdoor grilling and dining essentials, like cast-iron shrimp pans ($32), a stainless steel burger-grilling basket ($16), and, of course, your choice of barbeque sauce to go along with it.

Find it: Sur la Table

3. Wayfair

KitchenAid Stand Mixer on Sale on Wayfair.
Wayfair/KitchenAid

Wayfair is cutting prices on all manner of appliances until May 28. Though you can pretty much find any home appliance imaginable at a low price, the sale is highlighted by $130 off a KitchenAid stand mixer and 62 percent off this eight-in-one GoWise air fryer.

And that’s only part of the brand’s multiple Memorial Day sales, which you can browse here. They’re also taking up to 40 percent off Samsung refrigerators and washing machines, up to 65 percent off living room furniture, and up to 60 percent off mattresses.

Find it: Wayfair

4. Blue Apron

If you sign up for a Blue Apron subscription before May 26, you’ll save $20 on each of your first three box deliveries, totaling $60 in savings. 

Find it: Blue Apron

5. The PBS Store

Score 20 percent off sitewide at Shop.PBS.org when you use the promo code TAKE20. This slashes prices on everything from documentaries like Ken Burns’s The Roosevelt: An Intimate History ($48) and The Civil War ($64) to a Pride & Prejudice tote bag ($27) and this precious heat-changing King Henry VIII mug ($11) that reveals the fates of his many wives when you pour your morning coffee.

Find it: The PBS Store

6. Amazon

eufy robot vacuum.
Amazon/eufy

While Amazon doesn’t have an official Memorial Day sale, the ecommerce giant still has plenty of ever-changing deals to pick from. Right now, you can take $100 off this outdoor grill from Weber, $70 off a eufy robot vacuum, and 22 percent off the ASUS gaming laptop. For more deals, just go to Amazon and have a look around.

7. Backcountry

You can save up to 50 percent on tents, hiking packs, outdoor wear, and more from brands like Patagonia, Marmot, and others during Backcountry's Memorial Day sale.

Find it: Backcountry

8. Entertainment Earth

Funko Pops on Sale on Entertainment Earth.
Entertainment Earth/Funko

From now until June 2, Entertainment Earth is having a buy one, get one half off sale on select Funko Pops. This includes stalwarts like the Star Wars and Batman lines, and more recent additions like the Schitt's Creek Funkos and the pre-orders for the upcoming X-Men movie line.

Find it: Entertainment Earth

9. Moosejaw

With the promo code SUNSCREEN, you can take 20 percent off one full-price item at Moosejaw, along with finding up to 30 percent off select items during the outdoor brand's summer sale. These deals include casual clothing, outdoor wear, trail sneakers, and more. 

Find it: Moosejaw

10. Osprey

Through May 25, you can save 25 percent on select summer items, and 40 percent off products from last season. This can include anything from hiking packs and luggage to outdoorsy socks and hats. So if you're planning on getting acquainted with the great outdoors this summer, now you can do it on the cheap.

Find it: Osprey

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Never-Shown-on-TV Digital Shorts From The Office are Now Available on iTunes

Oscar Nuñez, Brian Baumgartner, Jake Lacy, Paul Lieberstein, Angela Kinsey, Phyllis Smith, Craig Robinson, Ellie Kemper, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms, and Leslie David Baker in The Office.
Oscar Nuñez, Brian Baumgartner, Jake Lacy, Paul Lieberstein, Angela Kinsey, Phyllis Smith, Craig Robinson, Ellie Kemper, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms, and Leslie David Baker in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

It's a good time to be a fan of The Office. The NBC series may have ended nearly seven years ago, but the cast still manages to surprise us on a regular basis. Whether it be an impromptu reunion, or sharing some details about the sitcom in new interviews, fans are still able to reminisce on a daily basis. But the best gift yet for those running out of things to watch while stuck at home may have just arrived: A collection of digital shorts from the beloved series is available to purchase on iTunes, and it's full of never-before-seen-on-TV content.

The collection includes 10 episodes of hilarity from your favorite The Office characters, including Michael Scott, Jim Halpert, Pam Beesly, Angela Martin, and Kelly Kapoor. One of these shorts is actually an Emmy winner titled "The Accountants," which sounds pretty intriguing.

So grab some popcorn (be sure to clean out the microwave when you're done) and a few of your fellow The Office fanatics, because this is your chance to re-live the Dunder Mifflin days all over again. You can access all of the episodes here.